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Australia: Shares rise on healthcare, financials; New Zealand down

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Australian shares rose on Monday after a sharp drop in the previous session, driven by the healthcare and financial sectors, while fears of a deep recession due to the coronavirus outbreak continued to weigh on material and energy stocks.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Monday after a sharp drop in the previous session, driven by the healthcare and financial sectors, while fears of a deep recession due to the coronavirus outbreak continued to weigh on material and energy stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.4 per cent, or 68.6 points, to 4,911.00 by 0101 GMT after Friday's 5.3 per cent fall. For the month, the index has lost more than 23 per cent, heading for its biggest monthly drop ever.

"The market is marching to its own drum today. After a 7 per cent reversal on Friday, that took the index from gain to loss, selling is more moderate," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets said.

Among gainers on the benchmark stock index, the healthcare sub-index jumped as much as 5.2 per cent helped by a rise in demand for gloves.

Ansell soared 21.6 per cent in its best intraday gain since 1987 after the industrial and medical glove maker reaffirmed its full-year forecast and reported a rise in demand for its products.

Financials climbed 2.7 per cent on bargain-hunting. Lenders had been the worst hit by the market volatility, shedding about 40 per cent from a Feb 21 peak to last close.

The "Big Four" banks rose between 2.5 per cent and 4.1 per cent, with Westpac Banking Corp gaining the most.

"Utility and consumer discretionary stocks are also finding support as investors seek stocks that are unaffected, or could benefit from the current economic environment," Mr McCarthy said.

Supermarket chain operators Coles Group and Woolworths Group rose 3.4 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively.

However, fears of a global shutdown lasting for months dampened sentiment toward stocks exposed to international shocks.

Material stocks took a beating, with global miner BHP Group shedding 3.2 per cent, while Rio Tinto slipped 1.4 per cent.

Energy stocks also fell, pressured by a 7 per cent slump in US Crude futures. Santos dropped 5.3 per cent, while Caltex Australia slipped 3.5 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1 per cent, or 97.54 points, to 9,459.19. The country recorded its first death related to the new coronavirus on Sunday.

Fletcher Building shed 6.4 per cent, while Goodman Property dropped 5.1 per cent.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it would deploy more tools to provide additional liquidity to the companies and support market functioning.

REUTERS

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